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This machine was based on an old rather dreary penny press, squashing 1p pieces into Southwold souvenirs. When Lord Levy got arrested the UK cash for honours scandal just seemed too good an opportunity to miss. It also presented a visual style for the machine – and it was great fun making it all look regal.

I'd already had a new die made for the press which didn't have anything to do with cash for honours, but I thought that would probably just add to its eccentric charm. Instead of pictures of the town I'd done jokes about squashing coins. Rocky Rockholt made me the new die, and suggested I squash 10p coins as they are much bigger and make the text much easier to read. Swopping the die was easy.


I thought the ‘medals’ should be displayed in some glamorous way but my first Perspex display cabinet looked cheap and my second attempt, all stainless steel, looked too medical. The regal look inspired the old picture frames, and the LED lighting is bright enough to make the coins glint even in bright sunlight. As the machine started to take shape, Graham suggested it should have a stool so you could kneel to collect your medal, and he even had in his stores the perfect stool legs. Then I realised it should play the national anthem off key while you squashed the coin.


The columns are from a 1970s table someone had only just given me. The boss of the wheel is an old Austin car steering wheel hub I’d kept since my teens. Meg found the sumptuous vinyl in Felixtowe’s great fabric remnants shop.

It took many trips to the pier to install and the first day I finally got it working two people asked me if it was still possible to get a traditional Southwold souvenir coin. I lost confidence in it and decided I didn’t like the main sign. I spent nearly a week rebuilding it and liked the new version even less. The cod Victoriana is just what people expect on a pier, it didn’t look like a joke.  Another week later, mark three, made of old copper plumbing bits, looked OK but the columns wouldn’t fit. Finally, with hinged columns to rotate out of the way when shutting the machine away every evening, it was finished!        




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